ONE of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines this year has smashed across the country's south with up to 40 people killed and more than 50,000 forced to flee from inundated villages.
Typhoon Bopha slammed into the Davao region at dawn, packing winds of almost 100 mph and gusts of up to 120mph, toppling trees, triggering landslides and sending flash floods surging across the region's mountains and valleys.
A flash flood is thought to have killed more than 30 people in Andnap town and in the gold-mining province of Compostela Valley, the fierce wind and rain forced a wall of mud and boulders to cascade down on a house, killing three children.
"The only thing we could do was to save ourselves. It was too late for us to rescue them," said Valentin Pabilana, who survived the landslide.
In nearby Davao Oriental, a poor agricultural and gold-mining province, an elderly woman was killed when her house was struck by a tree felled by howling wind.
A man died a few hours later when a tree knocked him down while he was travelling on a scooter on a road in Misamis Oriental province.
The death toll is expected to rise once soldiers and police gain access to some far-flung villages isolated by floods, fallen trees and downed communications.
While around 20 typhoons and storms normally lash the archipelago nation annually, the southern provinces being battered by Bopha are unaccustomed to fierce typhoons.
Officials were taking no chances this year, and President Benigno Aquino III made an appeal on national TV for people in Bopha's path to move to safety and take storm warnings seriously.